The best financial advisers can be found through research and word of mouth. It makes sense to ask around for recommendations from friends and family. You can also look online and check out reviews for financial advisers in your area. The internet has made it easier than ever to find many experts in your area and read reviews from customers.
You also want to make sure that the advisor you choose is accredited by one of the professional organizations that train and certify them. Some examples are CFA, ChFC and CLU. Once you narrow some down, also take time to set up a meeting to see what they offer. Some of the best financial advisors are very personable and will see you as a unique individual. When you meet with them, it’s important to feel out how they establish their client’s portfolio allocations. The better financial advisors will recognize that each person’s financial situation is unique. If they push filling out cookie cutter questionnaires, they’re probably just average. A good financial adviser will find way’s to give you advice that works for your unique situation. The best financial advisers are also attentive, easy to get in touch with and responsive to your questions. They don’t pawn it off to an assistant to return the call.
In terms of fees and commissions, the best one’s also offer a mixed commission and fee structure. This means that they charge an annual fee for the administration of the account combined with a smaller than normal commission. Many other advisors will charge just a commission and the rates can sometimes be pretty steep for mediocre performance. Although rare, I have even heard of financial advisers that only charge a commission when you make money from your investments. Of course, these types of advisors will charge the annual maintenance fee but at least your losses won’t be compounded by commissions also taken out in addition to a down market.
Taking into account all of this information, the most important thing is that you choose a financial adviser that you communicate with and makes a good partner. If you don’t feel a connection with them even if they have all the qualities of a good financial advisor, don’t use them. Keep searching until you find a better match. It’s more important to get it right the first time as this will likely be a lifetime relationship that will result in the success or failure of your retirement goals. Choose wisely.
Disclaimer: Please seek professional advice regarding tax liability and investing options based on your personal situation.